We are witnessing a revolution that threatens the foundation of our modern government. Before I describe the revolutionaries, I want to ask you a personal question. What do you do for fun in the evening?
Most of us spend some time browsing on the internet. That research isn’t structured. We dive into a subject, and the first thing we do is get our bearings. We have to discover what we don’t know.
Children learn the same way. They need to explore and discover before they begin to integrate what they have learned. That isn’t what public school teachers do. That isn’t what public school administrators do. That exploration, quite simply, is not the purpose of state sponsored education. State education is an industrial process and an increasingly political process. The information age allows discovery, investigation and learning to remain a human process. The revolution is in how we teach ourselves.
True, children need to come to school prepared to learn. Some public school teachers will even admit that parents play a huge part in education (and here.) Some bureaucrats in the state educational system have the opposite view. Here, a Teacher’s Union President justifies failing schools in Chicago by blaming rich white people and decreasing school funding. That seems far from the truth, as another teacher demonstrated. A Mexican teacher from a school that hugs a waste canal and a garbage dump produced a classroom full of world-class students.
We’ve rediscovered that top/down curricula and memorization don’t work. That is why I started by asking you what you do most nights on the internet. Yes, you surf past Facebook, but then you explore the world online. You research topics that interest you. For all intents and purposes you are enrolled in a self-directed home-school night after night. That is the new normal.
Today’s involved individual knows more than his counterpart 50 years ago, from finance and the economy, to medical treatments and politics. The average adult of today can touch a world of information that was available only to scholars of a few years ago. Private education has taken on a new meaning. Education is not merely private, as in the classroom is privately funded versus paid for with state tax money. Private education now means individually directed versus following a top-down standardized curricula. It is the self-direction that is key, not the keyboard and computer. We are at the point where each student asks where they should go next.
The education establishment feels left behind. How can the state spread its political agenda if we educate our own children to be independent thinkers? You don’t need to sit in a desk and listen to a teacher licensed in your state when you can have the best minds in the world at your fingertips. Nor do your children. Imagine what self-directed education does for children who want a passion for lifelong learning! This isn’t a theoretical fantasy about education. Consider this success story where a home-school family sent their 10 children to college by the time they were 12 years of age.
Of course, the teaching establishment feels threatened. This is a revolution in the making. For one thing, how will politicians get their political contributions once state employee unions don’t have schools to administer? My goodness, politicians will have to find another activity for graft and kickbacks.
I can see you’re shocked at the thought of starving politicians and educated students. Me too, but this isn’t a complete surprise. We home-schooled our daughter for a few years. It worked well, and our daughter started junior college classes by the time she was 16 and could drive. (This was back before online college courses.) She graduated with her high school class, but already had a year of college credit. She started college with enough credit to graduate in four year despite taking a semester off and taking some graduate courses for fun.
I bring up this personal fact about my family because it is the rule rather than the exception. On average, I’m average. About one in 30 students is homeschooled, or just under 2 million children. You probably know some of them.
The government is responding to this sea-change. The federal government, particularly the Department of Education, doesn’t like any of this since home-school threatens the unionized base of the Democrat party. Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal had to fight the feds to allow vouchers for poor schools. The Federal Department of Justice deported immigrants for home schooling their children. Local school officials buried a home-school family with legal harassment.
Once you home school, it appears home-school legal insurance is as necessary as fire insurance.
More parents will choose to home-school due to the growing availability of online resources and the growing evidence documenting the benefits of non-traditional education. The retaliation by bureaucrats will intensify now that home-school enrollment is growing seven times faster than state schools.
Self-directed learning works. It is cheap, and it is fun. You know that from your own web-surfing experience. Self-directed education is unstoppable and will continue at all levels, from pre-school to college, and for all subjects, from history to science. Bureaucrats will try to regulate the recognition of these formal and informal learning programs in order to force students back into the traditional bricks and mortar schools with their unionized instructors.
That might have worked in the past. Now, you’re smarter than that.
Image: Courtesy of http://education-2020.wikispaces.com/Disruptive+Innovation; Alex Ragone